Move Over Sushi, Ramen Is King

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Sushi has long been the dish synonymous with Japan on the world stage, but in recent years, it’s been challenged by the new rising star of Japanese cuisine that’s quick, affordable, and unbelievably delicious: ramen. Tender, creamy, savoury broth with thick noodles that are meant to be slurped up by the mouthful. Melt in your mouth pork belly or shoulder, boiled eggs with yolk that spills into your bowl, black sesame seeds or shishito flakes adding a dash of umami or spice on top. It’s comfort food like no other. No wonder it’s so popular.

And boy is it popular. There are over 32,000 ramen shops in the country, with over 10,000 in Tokyo alone. Each region has its own take on one of the iconic four styles: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (soybean), and tonkotsu (pork). Fukuoka has popular Hakata ramen with thin noodles and white broth; Sapporo has a hearty miso variety fitting for the cold winters. No two restaurants are the same—even if they happen to share the same name.

A bowl of shoyu ramen.

It won’t take you long to find a ramen stall in Japan. You don’t even have to leave the train stations or airports to find queues of people lining up for a chance to slurp down some noodles at a small shop or counter. There’s even a whole part of Tokyo Station dedicated to ramen: Tokyo Ramen Street.

So next time you’re in Japan, make like the locals do and follow the crowds of suited salarymen to a small ramen stall for a bite to eat. Order from the machine, bow to the chefs, and take your seat at the counter ready to enjoy one of Japan’s—soon to be the world’s—favourite dishes.

And don’t forget to slurp.

This article was originally published in Vol. 29 of Globetrotting Magazine.

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Aren Bergstrom
Aren Bergstrom

Globetrotting Editor - You might say that Aren was destined to become a Globetrotter after his family took him to Germany two times before he was four. If that wasn’t enough, a term spent in Sweden as a young teenager and a trek across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand confirmed that destiny. An independent writer, director, and film critic, Aren has travelled across Asia, Europe, and South America. His favourite travel experience was visiting the major cities of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, but his love for food, drink, and film will take him anywhere that boasts great art and culture.

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